I Take the Bible too Seriously to Not Fact-Check Internet Quotations

This quotation, often attributed to Karl Barth, came across my feed on Facebook this morning:

“I take the Bible too seriously to read it literally.”

Whenever I try to trace a quotation to its source, especially if the source is famous, and what I find are pages and pages of just the quote with no actual source for it ever appearing, I get suspicious. That is what happened in this case.

I did find a Facebook page where someone said something similar – it wasn't Barth himself, though. Here is a sample of that:

I was asked how I defend not taking the Bible literally. Frankly, I take the Bible too seriously and love it too dearly to take it literally…No one really ever takes the Bible literally…

The real problem with literalism, however (its great heresy, if you will), is that it treats the Bible as a book. It’s not a book. It’s a doorway disguised as a book. For example, the purpose of the Gospel of Mark is not to provide information about Jesus or to find out his moral guidelines. The purpose is to meet Jesus. The purpose is to have a spiritual encounter with him through the text. If the Bible is just another book—even a holy book, it’s worthless. The authority is not in the text or the words or in it being sanctioned by the church. The authority is that we when we read it, we encounter the Divine.


That's from the Mesa Verde United Methodist Church Facebook page. I wonder whether they thought they were quoting Karl Barth. I wonder whether, if someone attributed their words to Barth, they would go viral.


And if they went viral, I wonder whether anyone would notice it wasn't an authentic Barth quote. And if they did, would they be able to get that point across, or would the quote continue to circulate with the false attribution regardless?

There are a lot of spurious quotations that circulate, and countless other forms of spurious information, whether about the Bible, science, politics, or anything else.

Take truth seriously. Trace information back to its source. Fact check. Please.


Because as Karl Barth famously said, “I take the Bible too seriously to believe everything that's said about it on the internet. And I take myself too seriously to believe every quotation attributed to me on Facebook.”


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